Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cheddar and Chive Scones

Because you are a loyal readership, I am going to tell you something. Those cupcakes I made, the ones in which I barely had enough sugar for and didn’t wait until the butter had softened properly, did not turn out. This is why if you are going to serve something, you should try one first. I, of course, do not like cupcakes, so I tried pawn them off on my sister before anyone else ate them. She didn’t take the bait though, so when people unpeeled the wrappers at the dinner party I brought them to, I had to cry out in horror, “Something is wrong! Don’t eat them!” How did I know something was wrong before someone even bit into it, you ask? Because they were in no way the texture a cupcake should be. They were denser than the super bounce balls we used to get from the vending machine at my grandma’s mall. (You know, the kind that you could just barely drop on the ground and they would bounce 50 feet into the air.) The people who ate them mustered every social sensibility they had to say they were fine, but the biggest compliment that I received was that they were, “Not bad.” This is the dinner party equivalent of, “I would spit this into the toilet if I didn’t think it would clog the pipes,” if people just actually said what was on their minds. Someone tried to throw the excuse of overbeating the batter out there, but I know where I went wrong. (As a side note, you know something is truly terrible when the people eating your food try to give excuses for what went wrong.) When creaming the sugar, eggs and butter together in the very first step, my butter wasn’t room temp and it didn’t cream smoothly. This created lumps of butter, which translated to greasy, dense, rubbery cupcakes that people could hardly choke down, which is of no fault of the recipe. Remember I said you couldn’t mess around with baking recipes? You have to follow the instructions exactly, and I did not, and look what happened. At least they were pretty to look at.

Luckily, I will never again attempt to give you another dessert recipe, although as I said, these cupcakes are actually delicious when you do it properly. That’s what I get for having zero patience and little care for attention to detail. (Along with my complete lack of self-control, these could be my three biggest personality flaws in all facets of life, but that kind of self-analysis is not meant for a light-hearted food blog.) Now, there is one type of baking that marries well with my impatience, and that is baking biscuits and pastry type things. They work well because in these recipes, you actually want little lumps of cold butter here and there, because that is what creates fluffy biscuits and flaky pastry. This means no waiting for your butter to become room temperature, which means no level of annoyance for me. Also! You don’t have to do any kind of dramatic alternating adding of dry and wet ingredients, which also confuses me and makes me not want to bake.

Cheddar and Chive Scones are one of my favourite things to make. They are great on their own with a little butter, but if you want to get really fancy, you can slice them open and make little sandwiches on them too. This what you need:

·      2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
·      2 tsp baking powder
·      ½ tsp baking soda
·      ½  tsp black pepper
·      Pinch of salt
·      2 tsp chopped chives (or whatever herbs you like)
·      1/3 cup unsalted butter
·      1 cup buttermilk
·      ¼ cup cheddar cheese (I like the orange cheddar because it gives nice contrast with the chives)

If you dare, you can leave out the herbs and savoury ingredients, and use a teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of sugar to make them sweet. My ego still isn’t over the emotional trauma of the cupcakes though, so we aren’t going to talk about that.

1.     Preheat your oven to 400°. Combine your flour, baking powder, baking soda, herbs, salt, pepper and cheese.

2.     Add the butter in with your fingers and crumble until the mixture is the size of peas.

3.     Add the buttermilk and mix with a fork until the mixture if just combined. (Remember how someone said my cupcakes were overbeaten? This is where that can happen, so go easy on the mixing.)

4.     Turn onto a clean (obviously), floured work surface and cuts scones into rounds, squares or triangles. (Try to avoid using a glass for this because it mashes down the edges of your scones.)

5.     Place scones onto a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven.

6.     Bake 12-14 minutes or until scones are risen and golden brown.

These are lovely things to bring as a hostess gift, especially if you put them in a pretty box. And I promise, this recipe will not fail you. I made them this weekend to bring to a cottage and was told I “nailed them”. Much better than “not bad”! 

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